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Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

Storytelling on the Road to Socialism: Episode 12: A Switchman Speaks

By Candace Wolf - Storytelling on the Road to Socialism, June 6, 2023

On this episode, a switchman from Harlem tells the story of militant anti-racist and class wars in the U.S. communications industry

Music:

  • The Internationale - Workers Party of Jamaica In-House Reggae Group
  • Get Back, Black, Brown & White - Big Bill Broonzy
  • There is Power in the Union - Utah Phillips
  • The People United Will Never Be Defeated - Ilti Illimani (English version sung by the Cambridge People's Assembly)
  • Solidarity Forever - Pete Seeger
  • Socialism is Better - words & music by Bruce Wolf; performed by Bruce Wolf, Noah Wolf, Gaby Gignoux-Wolfsohn

Storytelling on the Road to Socialism: Episode 11: A Domestic Worker Speaks

By Candace Wolf - Storytelling on the Road to Socialism, May 30, 2023

On this episode, a woman from Bangladesh tells the story of the struggles of domestic workers to demand an end to their servitude.

Music

  • The Internationale: Bengali version
  • Pirate Jenny: Nina Simone
  • Socialism is Better: words & music by Bruce Wolf; performed by Bruce Wolf, Noah Wolf, Gaby Gignoux-Wolfsohn

The Green New Deal in the Cities, Part 1: Boston

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, May 16, 2023

While the Green New Deal started as a proposed national program, some of the most impressive implementations of its principles and policies are occurring at a municipal level. Part 1 of “The Green New Deal in the Cities” provides an extended account of the Boston Green New Deal, perhaps the most comprehensive effort so far to apply Green New Deal principles in a major city. Part 2 presents Green New Deal-style programs developing in Los Angeles and Seattle, and reviews the programs and policies being adapted in cities around the country to use climate protection as a vehicle for creating jobs and challenging injustice.

Urban politics often seem to produce not so much benefit for the people as inequality, exclusion, and private gain for the wealthiest. Does it have to be that way? In cities throughout the US, new political formations, often under the banner of the Green New Deal, are creating a new form of urban politics. They pursue the Green New Deal’s core objectives of fighting climate change in ways that produce good jobs and increase equality. They are based on coalitions of impoverished urban neighborhoods, disempowered racial and ethnic groups, organized labor, and advocates for climate and the environment. They involved widespread democratic mobilization. A case in point is the Boston Green New Deal.

Review - A Planet to Win:Why We Need a Green New Deal

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, May 11, 2023

In spite of this book's straightforward sounding title, A Planet to Win, Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso, 2019), by Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen, and The Riofrancos, this relatively short and concise book would be much more accurately titled, "Why we think our version of the Green New Deal is the best one of the lot," because there isn't a single "Green New Deal", but several, as we have noted here on ecology.iww.org. This, however, is not necessarily a negative aspect of this book.

The authors, all of them ecosocialists with a transformative approach, are quick to explain that the particular Green New Deal they seek is one that addresses most critiques of the Green New Deal in general. 

  • Would the Green New Deal repeat the mistakes of the original New Deal and exclude BIPOC people? Not the authors' version.
  • Would the Green New Deal rely heavily on social democratic Keynesian state intervention? Not the author's version!
  • Would the Green New Deal perpetuate endless growth in hubristic ignorance of the natural limits to growth, not if these authors have any say in the matter;
  • Would the Green New Deal further the continued exploitation by the Global North of the Global South? Not if the authors have anything to do with it!
  • Would the Green New Deal merely be a case of the capitalists saving themselves, with a putatively green branding? Absolutely not, the authors say.

Certainly, if given the choice, that sounds quite good to me. Clearly these authors aren't content with a naive faith that just because something is called a "Green New Deal" it will actually be a good deal.

The Perfect Storm of Extraction, Poverty, and Climate Change: A Framework for Assessing Vulnerability, Resilience, Adaptation, and a Just Transition in Frontline Communities

Pursuing a Just and Renewable Energy System: A Positive and Progressive Permitting Vision to Unlock Resilient Renewable Energy and Empower Impacted Communities

By staff - The Climate and Community Project, et. al., May 2023

It is indisputable that the climate emergency requires the United States to rapidly transform its majority fossil energy system to 100% clean and renewable energy.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent sixth synthesis report makes absolutely clear that an unprecedented bold transition to renewable energy with an equally aggressive effort to halt new fossil fuel development and phase out existing fossil fuel usage is absolutely vital to avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

This necessary transformation presents a tremendous opportunity to pursue a far more just path forward—one that ends the status quo entrenchment of the fossil fuel industry; empowers federal agencies to use their authorities to accelerate the transitions to a justly sourced, justly implemented, resilient, and equitable power system; actualizes the principles of environmental justice; and preserves our core environmental laws.

This system is composed of our most commonsense and affordable solutions that can be deployed in an efficient and just manner: energy conservation, distributed and resilient renewable energy and storage, and responsibly-sited utility-scale renewables, all paired with robust community engagement and opportunities for real energy democracy.

However, both Congress and the Biden administration are failing to exercise their imaginations to embed justice in a renewable energy future.

After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, both Democratic and Republican Congress members have proposed numerous “permitting reform” proposals, but the majority continue to argue that achieving a fast transition to renewable energy necessarily means undermining bedrock environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

This false logic must be interrogated. While these proposals might marginally improve the deployment of utility-scale renewable energy particularly on pristine lands, our energy needs can and must also be met with renewable energy on built surfaces that is more resilient, affordable, and respectful toward communities and wildlands.

Furthermore, any such purported gains of “permitting reform” proposals would be massively dwarfed by the emissions of fossil fuel projects that would also be expedited and result in deepening substantial environmental injustices for countless communities around the nation.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

THE ROAD TO TRANSIT EQUITY: The Case for Universal Fareless Transit in Los Angeles

By Chelsea Kirk, et. al. - Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) and Alliance for Community Transit Los Angeles (ACT-LA), May 2023

Los Angeles is a place like no other, and that is especially true when it comes to public transportation. Its primary public transit agency, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro), is one of the largest in the nation, with nearly one-fourth of California residents living in the agency’s 1,433-square-mile service area.

But LA Metro currently serves very few Angelenos—just 78 out of every 1,000 Los Angeles– area residents ride the bus or train. The majority of public transit riders in Los Angeles are low-income people of color who are financially burdened by the region’s high housing and transportation costs. Seventy-six percent of LA Metro ridership identifies as Latinx or Black, and approximately 63% of riders earn household incomes of less than $25,000 annually, with 40% subsisting on household incomes under $15,000 per year.

Additionally, LA Metro, unlike most public transit agencies in large U.S. cities, nets very little revenue from fares. Government grants and sales taxes mostly fund the agency’s operations and capital expenses, with fares projected to make up just 4.8% of the agency’s operations budget in fiscal year 2023. LA Metro has attempted to solve the financial burden of fares on their riders through fare capping and means-tested discount programs. These initiatives are not only expensive to run, but they also have low enrollment rates. And, ironically, if LA Metro successfully enrolled all those eligible for discounts, their earnings from fares would be even more negligible than they are now. In effect, the agency is spending millions of dollars to get the majority of its riders to pay less in fares. Why not just go fareless?

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

LNS Transit Organizer Bakari Height in Panel on Public Ownership of the Railroads

By Staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, April 30, 2023

The Labor Network for Sustainability recently endorsed the call of Railroad Workers United for public ownership of American railroads. A video panel on railroad nationalization sponsored by Solutionary Rail included LNS Transit Organizer Bakari Height.

To view the panel:

Labor and the Environment with GASP

From Farmworkers to Land Healers

By Brooke Anderson - Yes! Magazine, April 25, 2023

Immigrant and Indigenous farmworkers in California reclaim the power of their labor.

Sandra de Leon adds branches to a burn pile in Santa Rosa, CA on December 18, 2022. Photo by Brooke Anderson

On most days, Sandra de Leon prunes grapevines in Northern California’s wealthiest vineyards. But today she is dressed head to toe in a yellow fire-resistant suit, helmet, safety goggles, and gloves, carrying a machete and drip torch. She calls out over her crackling mobile radio, “Jefe de quema: aquí Bravo, informandoles que …” (“Burn chief: Bravo unit here, informing you that …”) and then rattles off data in Spanish on the number, size, duration, and temperature of a dozen or so burn piles she is monitoring on the sun-speckled forest floor. 

De Leon is one of 25 immigrant and Indigenous farmworkers gathered on a cold December morning in Sonoma County, California, for the first-in-the-country Spanish-language intentional-burn certification program. Like de Leon, each of these firefighters-(and firelighters!)-in-training has been haunted by fire. During a massive inferno in 2017, de Leon was one of many “essential workers” escorted by vineyard managers through mandatory evacuation zones to harvest grapes while breathing in toxic fumes from nearby blazes. 

“When we arrived at work, there were patrol cars because it was an evacuation zone, but they waved us through to harvest. The skies were red and heavy smoke was in the air. They didn’t give us any protective equipment. No masks,” de Leon says. “There was so much ash on the grapes that when you’d cut the grape, it would get on your face. Our faces were black.”

While she didn’t get sick, she says her co-workers struggled with asthma. De Leon recalls harvesting like this for eight hours and getting paid just $20 per hour. 

“They should have paid us more,” de Leon says. “We risked our lives for their profits.”

Today, however, de Leon and her fellow farmworkers are here to learn about “good fire”—a controlled burn land stewards use to reduce underbrush in overgrown forests to prevent the spread of more destructive wildfires. Thanks to North Bay Jobs With Justice, de Leon and her fellow farmworkers are (re-)learning skills many of their ancestors knew well. And they are putting that know-how to work healing a fire-ravaged landscape and people. 

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